As also a film cameraman, Strand is throughout his long career a spontaneous interpreter of what he sees. Influenced by his initial formation with Lewis Hine, his main subject of interest is the social testimony. From 1920 to 1923 in New York the portraits of his muse Rebecca whom he married in 1922 form an intimate exception in his art.
The close-up face is a difficulty for the photographers because the observer will be disappointed by the optical deformations in the refraction by the lens. The solution found by Strand is to put the sitter in an almost total darkness. The veil set by Steichen in 1924 on the face of Gloria Swanson certainly has a similar cause.
By improving the platinum prints Strand had become a virtuoso of black. This luxurious paper was too expensive for the young artist and such early prints are rare.
I discussed in this column a portrait of Rebecca made in 1921 by Paul Strand. The oblique head is heightened over a pillow and the lighting makes the eyes shine. This platinum print passed at Sotheby's on April 1, 2015.
The most emotional picture in this series is realized in 1923. The face in close-up occupies the whole image and the gaze barely more lightened than the surrounding skin is straight and frank. The slightly shiny tip of the nose provides the additional mark for a comfortable viewing by the observer.
The platinum print from the Quillan collection was sold for $ 650K including premium by Sotheby's on April 7, 2008. In the same technique the print from the Spiegel collection is estimated $ 500K for sale by Christie's in New York on October 10, lot 11.
SOLD for $ 400K before fees